Film and Documentary Studies Course Descriptions

Film and Documentary Studies is an interdisciplinary program focused on the critical and creative study of film, media, and documentary. At the undergraduate level, we offer a Film Studies Minor and an LVAIC Minor in Documentary Storymaking. We also offer a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Film. Students have opportunities to heighten their analytical skills of interpreting and responding to film, expand their knowledge of film history and diverse filmic traditions, learn specific filmic techniques, and practice the production of film and documentary storymaking.


ENG/WGSS 104 What is Creativity: Documentary Visions TR 2:35¬3:50—Handler

What can documentary films tell us about the nature of creativity? What defines it? Why does it matter to people? Some of the course films explore activities such as painting, music and dance that we commonly associate with the term “art.” Others explore the role of creative imagination in other activities, including political dissent, recovery from trauma, and relationships with animals. Most of the course films are about people who have been marginalized because of their race, gender, class position, mental health or political beliefs. We will ask how the subjects of these documentaries use imaginative work to define themselves and transform their communities. At the same time, we will ask how the documentaries frame their subjects, visually and narratively, and explore the ways in which documentaries are themselves acts of creative imagination and interpretation. Finally, the course will ask you to consider the role of creativity in your own life.

Films will include Searching for Sugar Man, Waste Land, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, 20 Feet from Stardom, What Happened, Miss Simone?, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Grizzly Man, and Rize. Readings for the course will include scholarship on documentary form and production, psychological accounts of creativity and play by D.W. Winnicott and Marion Milner, and cartoonist Lynda Barry’s meditations on the creative process in her graphic “autobifictionalography” One! Hundred! Demons!


DOC 250: Legal and Ethical Questions in Documentary Practice—Ranieri (Muhlenberg)

Through the lens of documentary filmmaking, this course explores the legal and ethical issues associated with documenting people, places, events, and situations. In so doing, we will consider how documentary films construct and represent truth, the nature of documentarians’ relationships with, and ethical obligations towards, their subjects, and how these questions inform other documentary practices. Topics discussed will include the impact of copyright law on documentary practice and best practices in fair use for documentary filmmakers. The course seeks to encourage students’ understanding and awareness of the ethical and political implications of documentary filmmaking and to see their own documentary practice as engaging in these concerns. Please contact Michael Kramp ( about course scheduling and transportation.


CHIN 298: Chinese Film Art (MW 11:10-12:25)—Chen

This course is an introduction to Chinese film art, from its narrative forms to elements of style. Students will analyze individual films in both presentations and compositions. The course objectives encompass a keener appreciation of Chinese cinema as well as an enhanced ability to comprehend, speak, read, and write Chinese. The language of instruction is Chinese.


ENGL 319: Reading Showtime’s Dexter (Online)—Keetley

In this course we will watch seven seasons (84 episodes) of Showtime’s Dexter, just as one might study the periodic installments of a serial novel. We will explore how the characters, themes, visual motifs, and central issues of the series (e.g., the nature of evil, justice, fate v. free will) develop over time. Students will view several (6-8) episodes of the show every week, watch and read lectures, write, and respond to other students in the class—developing over the course of the session a sustained thread that explores the entire series, as well as analyzing the particular preoccupations of individual seasons and episodes. Writing will consist of regular written posts to discussion forums, PowerPoint presentations, short exploratory papers throughout the semester, and then a final paper that draws on your earlier writing and that tracks one idea over the entire series.

DOC 370: Doc Storymaking Capstone (M 7:00-10:00 p.m.)—Smith (Lafayette)

Designed for those minoring in Documentary Storymaking, this capstone is a workshop-based experience where you will design, complete, and exhibit a documentary media project that represents your most advanced work. The course includes readings, screenings, and conversations with working filmmakers, all intended to ground your documentary in theoretical and industry-wide discourses while deepening your practice. As an integral part of the capstone experience, the class will travel to one of North America’s leading doc film festivals where we will access a rich network of accomplished documentarians and unique opportunities for engaging the ethical issues inherent in documentary making, participate in invaluable workshops, and attend and discuss screenings of some of the newest and most exciting work being done in documentary today. DOC 370 is typically completed in the senior year. Prerequisites DOC 150 & 250 or permission. FAMS elective course. Please contact Michael Kramp ( about course scheduling and transportation.


ENGL 384: 'New Brown America': Race and Identity in the 21st Century—Singh

What does it mean to be brown in America in 2019? How have recent historical events -- from 9/11 to the election of Donald Trump -- impacted the status of immigrant communities? This course will explore a range of contemporary texts from popular culture, including novels, films, stand-up comedy albums, and musical recordings, all of which explore the changing nature of identity. Many of our primary texts will explore points of intersection between different ethic and racial groups, including black/Latino/Asian intersections, multiracial identities, and the broad, trans-racial appropriation of hip hop culture. We will also read from critical race theorists who will help students develop a conceptual vocabulary to engage these issues. Starting points will be material by Hasan Minhaj, Mindy Kaling, Eddie Huang, Rupi Kaur, and Mohsin Hamid. Students will be encouraged to bring their own interests and suggested materials to the


ENGL 387: Filmmaking Studio (By appointment only)—Kramp

In this studio course, we will be completing work on a documentary film on the impacts of the Sands Casino on the Southside of Bethlehem. This is a film that students began in Summer 2018 as part of a Mountaintop project and have been continuing to work on throughout Fall 2018. We are looking to augment our filmmaking team by adding experts in Marketing, Graphics, and Sound or Music. The filmmakers will be premiering the film at a July 2019 festival and would like to develop a marketing plan, a musical/sound score, and develop a website for the film to help promote and archive the film and its accompanying research. This class will meet by appointment. Instructor's permission required.


HIST 396/DOC 396: Documentary Film and History (TR 2:35-4)—Myers

This course examines the relationship of documentary film to the production of historical knowledge. Through secondary literature and visual sources the course explores the genre’s origins and its development into a powerful medium for public history and protest. Students will analyse and write scripts, and produce podcasts and short documentaries. This course serves as an elective for the Doc Storymaking and Film Studies minors, and the AMST Graduate Certificate in Documentary Film.


SPAN 397: From casas to plazas: On the move in Contemporary Spain (MW 11:10-12:25)—

Reuben Muñoz (In Spanish) In contemporary Spain, politics and culture have turned away from tradition, opening to new forms of expression, community, space, and art that accentuate movement. This class will examine visual and written texts from the 1990’s to the present that respond to this critical shift. In exploring these texts through the lens of movement and change, topics of discussion will include political unrest, popular culture, globalization, immigration, and global warming.


FREN/MLL 397: French Cinema: The Classics (MW 11:10-12:25)—Armstrong

This course will offer an overview of French cinema from its beginnings to the contemporary period through a selection of “classic” films by a diverse range of directors. Representative films from a variety of film movements including avant-garde, poetic realism, film noir, new wave, cinema du look, new realism will be studied in a cultural and historical context and careful analysis will be paid to their form and content in order to understand their “canonical” status. Taught in English.